The $5 Computer

The mobile phone has made it possible for most people to carry a computer on them all the time. You can buy an unlocked Moto E at Amazon for $99. That’s pretty amazing. A powerful mobile computer for less than $100.

But what is more amazing is a computer for $5. That’s what The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a week ago:

If you watch that 2 1/2 minute video, you will see that they gave away 10,000 of these Raspberry Pi Zero computers on the cover of the December issue of their magazine. Giving away 10,000 computers seems expensive, but not when the cost is $5.

My colleague Joel showed me a chart last week of the most called resources in GitHub and right there at the top of his list was Raspberry Pi. These cheap computers are finding their way into all sorts of applications these days. Many of these use cases are hobbyists building stuff for their own use or just hacking around. But what Chris Dixon said a few years ago comes to mind

Raspberry Pi also powers two of the more interesting new computers to hit the market this year:

  • The 21 Bitcoin Computer which comes will the entire blockchain in its 128 GB SD card and a dedicated Bitcoin mining chip
  • The Kano computer kit which allows kids to build their own computer and program it

Buy your child the Kano this year and the 21 Computer next year when they are ready for something more. You will be doing them a huge favor as they will be figuring stuff out that will change the world in the coming years.

I am not sure if there is anything more heartening to me than the rise of the nearly free general purpose computer. I’ve been worried that general purpose computing was on the decline as we move to locked down devices with limits on what you can do with them. Raspberry Pi is the counterweight to that trend and such an important force for good things in the world of computing.


Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    Love how this fits perfectly with disruptive innovation theory.New entrants targeting low-end.Incumbents not bothered.Asleep at the wheel.

    1. jason wright

      i don’t think they’re asleep or not bothered. they know the theory. they don’t have an answer that works for their economic model.

  2. jason wright

    i feel quite attached to my little Moto E, and i’m reluctant to upgrade to a new device. i learn more when i bump up against the limitations of a technology package. it encourages problem solving would be nice if 21 sold the SD card separately (Piper Printer and Pi Wallet come to mind). $399 seems a little bit pricey for those of us living in the country where the Pi is made, especially when import taxes are added to the final cost.

  3. obarthelemy

    A bit of context though: for $5 the Pi is missing a power supply, a case, any form of storage (µSD), as well as a screen, keyboard, mouse, any type of network access (neither wifi nor ethernet nor BT) , any cable, and has a single USB port, making both I/O performance bad (lots of contention on that single USB channel) and the purchase of a USB hub mandatory for a lot of PC-like uses.Once all of that is added, the Pi ends up more expensive than a good old Android stick ( the $40 Tronsmart Draco H3… includes case, wifi, BT, cables, PSU, 2xUSB, 8GB Flash). All that will set you back more than the $35 difference with the Pi if you’ve got to buy it.Of course the Pi runs regular, hackable Linux, and comes with pins for hardware hacks too. The Tronsmart comes with more RAM, a much better CPU and GPU, and a much more end-user-friendly OS.And finally, complete tablets and phones can be had for not much more ($50-ish). They’re not very good, but they do work, and include a screen and a “keyboard and mouse”, so actually they’re the cheapest way to get a complete working computer, portability is a nice extra, especially if mains power and a safe desk to set up on are unavailable/unreliable.All of this to say that the Pi only makes sense for hackers. For mainstream uses, Android sticks/boxes/phones/tablets are both cheaper and better suited.

  4. Mike Zamansky

    Love these low cost computers and love the new maker movement.The $5 is a little misleading. My friend and fellow CS teacher talks about the cost here:…PlusStill, amazing power and amazing value with tremendous possibilities.

    1. fredwilson

      for a 30 student classroom:a laptop cart was $30ka chromebook cart is $10ka Pi cart is $1500progress

      1. obarthelemy

        The students carry their screens, keyboards, and mice from home ?

        1. fredwilson

          no, these carts are in the classrooms. the students check one out when they walk in.

          1. Justin Khoo

            I think obarthelemy is saying that the $1500 does not factor in a screen or keyboard. A separate monitor is not only unwieldly it costs more than the fully accessorized Pi itself. For a “laptop cart” scenario it looks like Chromebooks are still the cheapest bet.That or cheap android phones with bluetooth keyboards.

      2. Mike Zamansky

        Getting sooooo close.Last year we were trying to come up with an image and an easy way to replicate so that each kid could have his own computer with whatever they needed right on board.Just plug into a keyboard and monitor in the class or home and they’d be good to go.Not quite there yet, but almost.

      3. William Mougayar

        Keep going 😉 Desert cart $60Cheese tray $50

      4. PhilipSugar

        Been playing around with these. When you look at them replacing traditional computers that is like thinking about how to automate an existing process like education. Incremental, interesting, but not a game changer.What is exciting is thinking about how they can be used in applications where computers were never used before.That we have some ideas on. That is really interesting.

  5. awaldstein

    NiceAll this reminds me on my dad, such an innovator in Paterson teaching low income at risk kids science as a way to change their lives and the world.Also wonder whether companies like Little Bits don’t need to brush off their positioning and be less science experiment and more providing tools for the next gen entrepreneurs.Have a great Sunday.

    1. fredwilson

      they very much do need to do that

      1. awaldstein

        They seem to be missing the wave a bit.Programming is cool as should be creativity on their platform.

  6. William Mougayar

    Damn it’s $6.65 Canadian. We can’t even say five dollar computer!

    1. Girish Mehta

      Not to worry William, its not $5 in a properly functional form anywhere in the world :-). For $5 you get a paperweight….with some snazzy electronics. So the $1.65 shouldn’t matter much.

    2. jason wright

      about 0.03 bitcoin (as i type)

    3. JLM

      .One more reason to merge, eh?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. William Mougayar

        Ok, but first things first. You got to ban personal arms and provide free universal healthcare.Can you do that? Then we’ll talk.

        1. JLM

          .Without staking out any ideological ground, the simple answer is NO.I had hope for you and now I am in despair.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. William Mougayar

            Don’t dispair….I’ll give you some time to change your mind and come to your senses.

          2. JLM

            .Gun control and confiscation is dead. As it should be. Black Friday saw the greatest number of one day background investigations — 184K — in the history of the country.The American people want guns. That ship has sailed and is not coming back any time soon.California had the toughest gun laws in the US and look what happened. The American people are not going to stand for gun control.I, personally, am in favor of gun regulation with no “crazy” people being able to buy or own guns. There is no good reason why someone like me — veteran, trained up, safe record, good shot — should not be allowed to own a pistol. I represent a threat to nobody but some paper targets.The healthcare thing — we screwed it up with Obamacare and it will require going back to the well to fix it.So, I guess no Canadian merger.I’m going to focus on Mexico. Weather is better anyway.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. William Mougayar

            Well…you talked yourself out of that deal 🙂

          4. PhilipSugar

            The American people want guns. That ship has sailed and is not coming back any time soon.You can substitute gay marriage, abortion, etc.I don’t see why people can’t seem to grasp this simple concept.Fighting against it just alienates you. Go onto other issues.

          5. LE

            There is no good reason why someone like me — veteran, trained up, safe record, good shot — should not be allowed to own a pistol. I represent a threat to nobody but some paper targets.I am in favor of most of the things you are saying. However I would point out that if we take your thinking to an even greater extreme we might say “why can’t certain qualified people own nuclear or biological weapons” [1] [2] Certainly one of the reasons is that your “sound mind” today might not be the same sound mind 3 years from now. Right? So what type of follow up or recertifcation process will there be to make sure you are as sane as you are today? And how often is enough? Do we bundle that with the PSA test that you might be getting yearly?The 2nd reason might be that your ownership does not guarantee that the weapon or dangerous object isn’t stolen by someone and used. Can you, and how would you, guarantee that? I am not talking about some kid using your weapon or dangerous thing because you didn’t lock it up. I am talking about someone knowing you have a such object getting hold of it. You know there is a risk to that, right?Not every person, no matter how smart, has common safety sense. I saw my stepdaughter (age11) the other day opening a package with a nice looking knife. I said “where did you get that from”? She told me it was from her uncle because they had been discussing knives and he sent it to her. CAN YOU FUCKING BELIEVE THAT? But it gets better. Turns out she was supposed to give her mom the knife and only use it when mom was around. But somehow she convinced mom that she would keep it in her room in a box and only take it out when she needed to use it. CAN YOU FUCKING BELIEVE THAT? Man did I go ballistic over that one. Who lets an 11 year old girl (or boy) keep a big knife like that and use it unsupervised? And my wife is no idiot either however she didn’t see any risk in this (she was raised by wolves her parents let the grandkids at the pool literally without supervision I am serious..)[1] And let’s assume there is a valid reason for doing so for the sake of this argument.[2] Small chance of a really bad thing happen is why. Just look at what even happened at the CDC and their fuck ups.

          6. JLM

            .Remember I am an advocate of a stringent “crazy person” list and if I end up on the list because I threaten a neighbor, as an example, I lose the right to own a weapon.The nuke weapons issue is not guaranteed as a part of the Second Amendment. Could be wrong on that one?Personal defense is a perfectly legitimate reason to own a weapon. It is also a life saver under specific conditions.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          7. LE

            The nuke weapons issue is not guaranteed as a part of the Second Amendment. Could be wrong on that one?(Well maybe we can change that to “guns powered by nuclear energy” in that case. )For that matter what is actually the definition of “right to bear arms”?In Colonial times “arms” usually meant weapons that could be carried. This included knives, swords, rifles and pistols. Dictionaries of the time had a separate definition for “ordinance” (as it was spelled then) meaning cannon. Any hand held, non-ordnance type weapons, are theoretically constitutionally protected. Obviously nuclear weapons, tanks, rockets, fighter planes, and submarines are not. So it might actually make it to SCOTUS if you had a nuclear weapon that could be carried in your hand, eh? (Other than laws preventing the ownership of nuclear fuel which are obviously out there I am guessing).

          8. JLM

            .A quick read of Publius in the Federal Papers lays to rest the intentions of the Founding Fathers as it relates to the Second Amendment.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          9. LE

            Perhaps those documents didn’t clearly recognize human psychology and how two different men or women can see what is written in two completely different ways. (Just like in a marriage).

          10. JLM

            .Read them first and then decide.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          11. LE

            They are quite long and I have no time. If I did I’d be playing with the $5 computer or rebuilding my RC Helicopters. Or a host of other things that I am backed up on doing.Anyway this raises an interesting and obvious thought. If a Presidential Candidate most certainly needs to rely on others for all of his moves, strategy and information, to what extent does a well funded candidate try to lock up every possible known expert so that his competition has to pick from the farm team of less qualfied experts. I don’t mean 1 guy I mean locking up multiple experts and putting them on the payroll so that others can’t tap them. With the funding they have, this would seem to be trivial. Similar to how people hire legal experts or firms to block competitors. In a normal race I mean, not a Donald race.

          12. JLM

            .Normal has taken a flyer. There is no more normal. We won’t even get a holiday card from normal.Every night read one of the Federalist papers. Brilliant stuff and in the actual words of the Founders. Insightful. Incredibly insightful.The big names want to work for the winners. Jeb Bush can get Henry Kissinger to a dinner but the Donald can’t until he’s leading the polls. Now, he could.The best brains are also subdivided ideologically. I’m having breakfast with Karl Rove and a band of brothers invited by Texas Monthly. He’s supposedly not in play but desperately wants to be.Still, he takes and returns phone calls because the big guys are as egotistic as the candidates themselves.I began to give Trump serious attention when he fired Roger Stone who is incredibly well connected but an enormous egotist.The big vendors — polling, GOTV — will only work for the guys who can pay them.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          13. LE

            Trump is a trojan horse candidate. Note how long people were asleep at the switch about him because all they focused on what what he said… what came out of his mouth and how ridiculous it all seemed to them and how absurd. [1] Meanwhile he is attracting more attention not less. [2]That Trump has no clear positions yet (written by others) or has detailed plans doesn’t bother me one bit. He will waste his time on that when the time is appropriate. By doing so he invites an attack surface but also lessens an attack surface. That he says things that he knows he can never do doesn’t bother me either. Everyone does that promises things that will never happen.Negotiation wise he is starting out with strong positions that he will almost certainly back down on and knows that he will. He knows how to exploit an opportunity and a weakness and most importantly motivate people.[1] Because of course getting a blow job in the Whitehouse or not having enough common sense to know that a 20 year old might talk is super Presidential and commands the utmost of respect from all of us. Or smoking an illegal drug and admitting to Cocaine use. Or having an intern perform sexual favors on a friend of yours in the Whitehouse swimming pool. Or having a son in law raised by convicted felons.[2] Had no problem with the way that he generalized that Jews are good negotiators as well. Nothing wrong with saying that at all. I thought it was funny and complimentary.

          14. JLM

            .Remember one thing about the Trojan Horse. The Greeks used this subterfuge to break a 10-year siege to enter the city of Troy and win a protracted war.The Trojan Horse was a winning strategy.With each passing day, the numbers begin to favor Trump particularly as long as the GOPe candidates are in the 3% range. You can make up ground but maybe not that much.I do not have to have an opinion on Trump as we are still a couple of months from the first primary.What is true is that the folks who say he could never win under any circumstances are now few and far between.I watched him on the Sunday morning shows and it is easy to see why he has gained traction.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          15. LE

            The other side of this is why at Trumps age and level of existing notoriety and success he would actually want to be President. It’s an all consuming job and he already has a gross amount of people that worship him so you have to wonder why he actually is doing this and if it will end up being a “be careful for what you wish for” type of event for him. Kind of like when you date a girl that you don’t think you can get and then all the sudden you can get her and you might wonder “do I want to even be married to such a beautiful woman that everyone is always looking at?”.There hasn’t been anyone at his level of power, fame and notoriety that has ever attempted to be President. (Don’t say Reagan or Perot not even close.) And it’s not like he leads a boring life and needs a hobby or something to occupy his time. It’s a considerable sacrifice for anyone to be President and especially a guy like Trump who has worked hard but, and this is important, done it at his own pace and without having to deal with forces trying to control or tell him what to do. Politicians are used to being in that mold, Trump is not.For that matter Obama’s life is all downhill from here.Don’t get me wrong it’s a great “trophy” to be POTUS but I am not sure the trophy for a guy like Trump is worth the sacrifice and effort.You know when I used to watch The Apprentice (before it jumped the shark) I used to think that the guy who came in 2nd was the winner. That guy could get a good permanent job with his fame as opposed to the guy that ended up working for Trump and by the time he stopped doing that job everybody would have forgotten about him. 2nd place was better than 1st place.

          16. Matt Zagaja

            Most “talent” dependent positions in political campaigns are not campaign specific and I am generally skeptical of the value add of superstar consultants. Campaigns are mostly a solved domain at this point and despite having been in the field for years I have yet to see much in the way of “secret sauce” supported by evidence. The exceptions being fundraising and legal compliance where superstar consultants can bring a large value add through their relationships.

          17. TSA_TheSexualAssault

            Yeah, Raspberry Pi Zero, 20-pack!

          18. TSA_TheSexualAssault

            Arms equal to those of the kind carried by the best infantry in the world, ever, are the kind authorized to any American who is a member of, or could be required to serve as a member of, the irregular militia of a State. Water cooled Maxim? Yes. MG34? Yes. M240B? Yes. Poison gas projector? No. Poison gas is an unlawful weapon of war. Air rifle? Yes. Crossbow? Yes. Small explosives? Yes.Blinding laser rifle? No. Blinding enemy or civilians with lasers is an unlawful act of war so the single-purpose weapon is unlawful. Biological weapons? No. Poisons and engineered or naturally-occuring disease vectors are prohibited as weapons. An arguement can be made against area-effect weapons (large bombs/nukes) or unmanned/unguided weapons (AI, automated) that search for a type of target without the responsibility of a human for the final target. This is an arguement against successfully used against landmines in some int’l treaties that could be extended to drones.

          19. PhilipSugar

            My ten year old has his own knife. He can just go and get one in the kitchen if he wanted.

          20. LE

            Going and getting one in the kitchen is way different than having one at your disposal in your room where you might have friends over and it’s easily at hand. Anyway there are all sorts of dangerous things around the house (power tools) but it’s easier to enforce “don’t do that” if tool is located where you can say “don’t touch Daddy’s power tools anytime” which is better than “tool in your room keep your hands off it”. The way I see things.The kids just got those Swagway hoverboards. Rule was “no riding downstairs”. Then it became no riding anywhere. Turns out they ride them in their bedroom (which is small). Then the rule becomes “we have a new kitten no riding Swagway with kitten”. So they hold the kitten and ride the swagway. That becomes “ok if you are holding kitten you can stand on the swagway”. (Mistake..) Then turns out the kitten is on the ground and they are on the swagway they say “it’s ok I’m watching the kitten I won’t hurt it”. Swagway could easily run over the kitten as the kitten is darting around at lightning speed. Do it again, loose the swagway.Kids have kids brains as much as you think they are responsible they can do stupid things (just like Adults).Back in the day my ex girlfriend was working for me and was holding an Xacto knife in front of me and cut me with it by accident. Non intentional weird accident. Shit happens. You have to weight the risk vs. the downside is all I am saying.

          21. TSA_TheSexualAssault

            The world is not safe. You can not make it safe by restricting me. You can not make it safe even by restricting yourself. You can make the world an impoverished police State, to no end but itself.

          22. LE

            To be clear I’m totally ok with common sense gun ownership despite the comment that I made. (I don’t own guns and don’t plan to as I have said..)One reason is (and this is important) I think we have to get away from this 100% guaranteed uptime that has taken over the country (such as what we spend on end of life care for example). [1] Or the fact that we end up putting people through endless security checks (that aren’t even that effective) because one time in 10 years someone might bring a plane down. That doesn’t mean we do no security checks or do nothing it just means we consider the balance between cost and resources and what we are trying to protect against (plenty of crumbling bridges waiting to go down that we are doing nothing about, right?). Just a more common sense approach that says “hey some shit might happen and life still has to go on”. What politicians care about is being the guy who let something happen when they were on duty.All of this has really gotten out of hand honestly.[1] Also the way Philly was shut down when the Pope visited. Ridiculous.

          23. PhilipSugar

            That really was ridiculous. I had to sit on a runway trying to get to London as they shut down PHL for his Mass. I am catholic but sorry that is BS.

          24. LE

            All engineered by politicians who wanted to meet him personally to improve and enhance their social standing. And the security shit was stealthy slipped in at the point that nothing could be done. Restaurants and businesses lost tons of money. Actually amazing that nobody filed a class action lawsuit for losses suffered.What happened to people that had weddings planned or other events in advance? Who covers the expenses of people that needed to stay in hotels to get to their jobs? Why does the visit of any person for any reason have to limit the freedom of others? The media was complicit in this because they viewed it as “merchandise” that they could sell.It’s very clear to me. If he presents such a risk that a city has to be closed down he shouldn’t be coming to the city. Forgetting whether or not he is of your religion or not that doesn’t matter at all. A visit like this is arbitrary and people were denied the use of their property that they pay taxes on.

          25. Richard

            Also a 5-10 year waiting period for legal immigrants (from all countries) and ban illegal immigrants from purchasing guns.

          26. JLM

            .Think about what you just wrote — “illegal immigrants”?Perhaps, they should be deported? They’re in the country illegally. They’re criminals already.Felons cannot own a gun.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          27. Lawrence Brass

            Plungers may be used as weapons too, á la Bruce Lee, but then who (and how) will unclog the WCs? I guess Donald has not thought of that either.

          28. JLM

            .I am trained in the use of unconventional weapons. I will take the plunge. But, then, I am special.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          29. Lawrence Brass

            I aleady know you are. The only guy I know that cleans WCs wearing a tuxedo. (I know it was not a tuxedo, but this makes the story more dramatic) 😉

          30. JLM

            .Haha, I like the tuxedo version better. I have somehow acquired four tuxedos, so I should start wearing one more often. Maybe to change the oil in the BRC tom’w.Merry Christmas.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          31. TSA_TheSexualAssault

            Uhhh, illegal aliens can’t buy firearms in the USA, they can’t even be here. _____effectiveness of laws______

          32. TSA_TheSexualAssault

            There’s no reason a reasonably qualified (no history of criminality) person shouldn’t be able to own any item carried by a single 1st world soldier. Crew-served items ought to need a committee of good people to maintain and field. It’s so unlikely that problematic people will buy and keep a 200 pound rifle that consumes $500+ per minute in ammo, but empowering gov’t to keep it from happening is a guaranteed problem.

          33. TSA_TheSexualAssault

            The problem with giving up being a person and becoming “property” is that there is no going back.

        2. jason wright

          Canada to join the EU, naturally.

        3. TSA_TheSexualAssault

          Enslave all medical personnel and remove their ability to defend their clinics? What?

      2. LE

        Unless you are dealing with the Canadians for years like I do you probably aren’t aware of a little trick they sometimes use. [1] When they pay an invoice they often write the check [2] not drawn on a US bank. So when you deposit it it goes as CDN instead of USD. However most “clerks” will post (for obviously reasons) the payment as if it’s a check in USD. The only way the business knows they aren’t receiving the full payment would be if they were paying attention to the bank statement (different person) so they saw the lower amount posted (or received a notice from the bank in the mail which doesn’t always happen). By that time of course the merchandise and/or service is long gone and it becomes a collection matter. (True stories as always based on actual experience..)[1] Has happened enough that to me it seems intentional.[2] Yeah people still use checks and guess what they are fun to receive in the mail even for small amounts.

  7. Girish Mehta

    The cover of Popular Electronics, circa Jan 1975.

    1. fredwilson

      any idea how much that Altair mini was?

      1. Girish Mehta

        Launched at $395 (in 1975 dollars). In August ’75 the kit price was $439.

        1. fredwilson

          that’s amazing

          1. Girish Mehta

            Their first ad….price is near bottom right Fred. Kit at $495 with $100 launch discount.

        2. Guy Lepage

          Great find.

    2. Lawrence Brass

      Cool! I believe this is the famous issue that convinced Bill Gates that it was the time to do something and be part of the PC revolution. I had one copy of that issue too and I craved deeply for an Altair, it was obviously out of my reach.The RasperryPI initiative is about giving kids an opportunity to play with technology for a very little amount of money, to inspire them and get them interested in computer science. The Zero is another step in that way. Now I am craving to have one in my hands.

      1. Girish Mehta

        Yes. Here is Gates talking about when Paul Allen and he saw this issue of Popular Electronics as they were walking through Harvard Square. It was Jan 1st 1975.…Basic had already been developed at Dartmouth back in 1964 and they felt it could be adapted for the Altair and contacted Ed Roberts. In March 1975, the Altair newsletter announced Basic Altair was up and running. Microsoft was incorporated in April 1975. And Altair Basic was officially released in the market in July 1975 in a 4K and 8K version.

        1. Lawrence Brass

          I wonder if one of the kids that get the RaspberryPI Foundation magazine Magpi bundled with a Pi Zero might become, in the years to come, one of the founders of that company that Fred often mentions, “The Company That No One Has Heard Of”, just from the inspiration he or she gets. Butterfly effects and magic moments, just as Bill and Paul.

  8. William Mougayar

    The applications range will be surprising. This week I heard that OpenBazaar tested their client on it, and it ran well. Imagine having it on the wall in your kitchen or home, and you can order stuff, check orders, etc.”Computer, computer on the wall, who is the cheapest of them all? -Raspberry Pi !!!”

    1. jason wright

      OB + 21 = coming of age for the peer to peer marketplace

    2. Twain Twain

      Funnily enough, 15 months ago I almost set off to make a smart mirror for the home which lets people order stuff, check weather etc. The hardware for the build costs less than $500 and RPi is indeed one of the components.At least one major FMCG is interested in this direct consumer sales channel, to disintermediate retailers and to gain more control over how their goods are displayed and advertised.However, the minute that FMCG sent an agreement which said they would own 100% of the IP I lost interest.As I pointed out to that FMCG, “Google didn’t become Google by letting Yahoo own 100% of Google’s IP, did they?”I’ve since had better hardware ideas where the hardware is much more distributed, decentralized — and not silo owned by some FMCG.

      1. William Mougayar

        Fmcg has very low margins as you well know. Online should be good for that segment.

        1. Twain Twain

          Yes, their margins and shelf positions are mostly set by the retailers. When the retail stores engage in price wars, the FMCGs get undercut left+right.It’s just that whenever a legacy company sends a unilateral agreement which runs counter to the mega-trend of decentralized distribution and more multilateral ownership by the “wee folks”, it jars and that FMCG sends the signal they don’t get tech at the leading edge or the ethos of tech.After all, developers get to keep our IP and 70% in revenue split when we make apps for Apple, Google etc. so the FMCG should think in terms of how to incentivize developers BETTER than Apple, Google etc.Otherwise, they’ll never attract the best ideas and developers to solve their problems for them.

          1. LE

            All true but where is your idea now? Perhaps even if you had to BOGU you’d be in a better place now even if someone else owned the IP (and keeping in mind my other comment regarding negotiation..)

          2. Twain Twain

            I’m in a better place because I own the IP of my inventions. The big legacy companies struggle to innovate in tech and one of my USPs is that I am seriously great at it.

          1. William Mougayar

            Are you sure? I thought it was mostly a WiFi chip inside…

          2. obarthelemy

            The Pi’s chip is mostly a GPU with a small CPU hanging off it to feed it data… were you being allegorical ?

      2. LE

        However, the minute that FMCG sent an agreement which said they would own 100% of the IP I lost interest.To ask the obvious question, did you try to negotiate that point?

        1. Twain Twain

          Yes. I sent them some sample agreements that were more win-win. Their business guy said he’d get their lawyers to look at it. I followed up every week for about 3 months and they said they’d review it and it was in their interests to work with talented people with great ideas.Radio silence then ensued; they seemed to have some type of bottleneck over the most basic of agreements.Six months later, I bumped into their SVP Marketing and he said he’d follow up about that agreement and its requested amendments.More non-action from them and radio silence ensued.What happened in that 15-month period? 6 months ago, the competitor of that FMCG launched a smart mirror and mobile apps.

          1. LE

            In that case (and in hindsight) what you needed to do was waste some of their time upfront (like they wasted yours) giving them the impression that you were cool with the terms in general. Then later fight over it. At the point you raised the issue they had nothing vested (any individual) so they were less likely to not want to have something die over an issue that (if more time were invested) they might want to negotiate. Agreed often impossible to know this at the start of course but thought I’d mention.Story: I know someone who got a Shark Tank deal (from Herkovic) and then 3 months later got a contract that was a non-starter. They didn’t even negotiate it they walked from the deal (they had done another Shark Tank deal that did work btw also lots of time elapsed between filming and receipt of contract really annoying behavior).In the 2nd case (no contract signing) they were just blown away by the lopsidedness (which to me means “Herkovic cold feet”). Very possible that if not cold feet another approach would have made a deal happen. I know this from actual experience in other cases.I followed up every week for about 3 months and they said they’d review it and it was in their interests to work with talented people with great ideas.Timing wise in that case you needed to lie to them (yeah lie to them that is bluff) and make them think (not 3 mos later but perhaps 2 weeks later) that you had someone else you were negotiating with. According to what you are saying you made what appears to be an open ended offer. While it can be dangerous to bluff it often works because it creates the urgency that is needed. All of this is 100% situation specific of course.

          2. Twain Twain

            Thanks, terrific tips.Here are 2 ways the FMCG lost important value:(1.) Their lack of agility and decision-making means they have 0 offering to respond to their competitors’ strategy and they’re now way behind the curve; and(2.) Someone recently suggested the FMCG as a buyer-user of another system invention I have and as soon as they suggested it, I shared that the FMCG isn’t a party I want to work with.My time would be better spent selling it into their competitor. At least I know their competitor is serious about investing in and delivering innovation to market.

    3. PhilipSugar

      Agree I think the most interesting thing is the ability to give one away in order to secure other transactions. I think about things like giving away software and content and this might be the next step.

    4. jason wright

      21 must be going in the right direction because it’s attracting the naysayer crowd on reddit.

      1. William Mougayar

        Good observation. There is developer interest which will pull applications and end-users forward.

  9. dangen11

    a walled garden contributes to the stifling of creativity and innovation

  10. Tom Labus

    Universal computing power and health care should be rights at this point

    1. JLM

      .They are — in Bernie Sanders’ mind, no?How about safety and security? Start with the basics.OTOH, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness has been a damn good start.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Tom Labus

        we should start with a hard look at the defense and CIA, etc. budgets and I’m sure we could get better security and also money for the above. Maybe toss in a few bridges too

        1. JLM

          .Even a patriot like me could cut the Defense budget by 50% without damaging the tip of the spear.We have more general officers in our 450K Army today than we had in our 13MM man Army of 1945.The tooth to tail ratio is at an all time low and we are shedding almost 100K Army and Marines in the next year. We will sorely miss these combat veterans when next the balloon goes up.We are developing futuristic weapons systems when nobody can hang with what we’ve got right now. We could delay every weapons development program for ten years and never feel the impact.A decent accountant could balance the Federal budget in two years if we had a zero based budgeting, a hiring freeze, a decent energy policy, and some balls.There would be pain but there would be a huge gain.Nobody seems to be focusing on the fact that the US Treasury is enjoying the HIGHEST receipts in the history of the US. Ever.If you can’t balance your budget when you’re rolling in dough, when?The secret is that the Republicans have no more desire to get our fiscal house in order than the Democrats. They’re all just pigs at the trough.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Tom Labus

            Ike was so right in his Farewell Address.

          2. JLM

            .And has become “righter” with the passage of time.Ike is developing into my favorite President of all time.Ike balanced 8 straight budgets with a Dem Congress, kept us out of war when war was his wheelhouse, built the Interstate Highway system, created the American nuclear arsenal, saw the Military Industrial Complex for what it truly was, didn’t take himself too seriously, was an adult.He smoked Nixon out though I think Nixon gets a bad rap. Still, Ike was unimpressed by Nixon and politicians in general.He rebuilt Columbia University, ran NATO.The description of Ike — 5-star general who ran Europe — turning the country over to JFK — a Lt JG in the Navy who got his PT boat sunk — is one of the most insightful changes in power in the history of the US.I like Ike.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. sigmaalgebra

            You are forgetting the wives! JFK’s wife was a real trophy, especially with her clothes budget from her father in law!

          4. Lawrence Brass

            If you delay the weapons development program for 10 years you will surely feel the impact in the economy, in the R&D and industrial chain, you will also loose a generation of high tech engineers and scientists. These are processes, can’t be stopped and started like an engine. And, if you put an accountant in charge, you will probably be building your F35s and drones in China by 2025.You guys own the money printer, no need to do anything.(now I need a drop of your bourbon)

          5. JLM

            .Certainly could be argued that way. There are no bloodless coups and this would, certainly, be a coup.The big airplane companies would redeploy these geniuses to work on existing planes and put the big projects on starvation rations.BTW, look up how long it took to design and produce the P-51. That’s where we need to get back to.As it is, we may be making everything in China by 2015 anyway. I prefer Mexico myself.Some sacred cows will become hamburger in the process but, Hell, what’s wrong with a damn good hamburger? I’d even spring for cheese.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          6. Lawrence Brass

            Speaking of fearless texans, ha ha. Its all OK if you don’t become a consitutent part of the hamburger, the Big Red Car should get chaff launchers installed ASAP.I won’t trash the P-51, but have to say that you got the Merlin engine for free, according to my Dad who assembled Merlin engines and did last stage assembly of Spitfires in a secret airbase somewhere in England, according to his story “until they fell asleep”. He was offered to stay in the RAF but chose to return to Chile after the war. They certainly were in a production frenzy. If you have labour availible until they fell asleep, how do you compute profit and revenue in such a situation? Is war economy so different from peace time economy? Do you really think that war time economy practices would be useful today?BTW, I have tracked the IP of the Merlin engine, its engineering DNA if you wish, and guess what? It is owned by a Chinese company that manufactures piston engines for light aviation.Now I’am craving for burgers,Cheers.

          7. JLM

            .First off, the BRC has a CHL (concealed handgun license) and doesn’t need no stinking chaff. He is about to get painted this spring. Last done a quarter century ago. It once had the best after market paint job I had ever seen.The big thing about the P-51 was its compressed development and initial build cycle. Using an existing engine — slightly modified in later builds — is fair game. Smart, fair game.Most of the big advancements in warplanes are going to be stealth, avionics, weapons targeting. We can produce lift easily enough.Now, we have to get to the target undetected — which today, means within 10-20 miles of the target — and launch highly targeted weapons, highly lethal weapons.Get a really good cheeseburger. A really good one with a potato bun.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          8. sigmaalgebra

            > BTW, look up how long it took to design and produce the P-51. That’s where we need to get back to.The P-51 is amazing. I was so impressed once my wife gave me one, with a little nitro methane fueled engine, for Xmas. She understood that boys like toys.But the real P-51 was mostly just metal work.I haven’t followed the details of the F-35, F-22, replacement for the B-2, the replacement for the Ohio class SSBNs, etc., but somehow I suspect that most of the cost is not for the metal work and, instead, is for the sensors, control systems, software, secure communications systems, fantastic radar systems, etc. E.g., for radar one of the tricks is to transmit a spread spectrum signal with some shift register sequence encoding so that it’s tough for the enemy to detect the photons and, due to the encoding, much tougher, still, to make any sense out of them. And due to the encoding, super tough to jam — that is, the US radar receiver filters out everything not like the shift register sequence encoding. So, the enemy can transmit megawatts trying to blind and jam the US radar but just can’t get through. The role of the shift register sequence is that it can be so darned fast and, thus, just super tough to defeat. And this is all very old stuff.When I was near some of the US SSBN work, some of it was totally wild stuff, and gotta believe it’s much wilder now.For the payoff, remember the F-117 flying over Baghdad — Saddam’s AAA lit up the night sky, and he could launch all the AA missiles he wanted, but the F-117s never got a scratch. Big sky up there — just throw up metal and stand to hit nothing.Think back to what the cavity magnetron did for England in the Battle of Britain.Yes, Russia has some advanced AA missiles. Hmm …. “Advanced”. Right. I’d bet that Russia could fire all those it wanted and never even scratch an F-22 or F-35.And there is much more tricky stuff in those planes than just the radar. Still, a P-51 would be a total blast to fly.Once at an airshow, an F-4 flew over, low, nearly over my head — grand new definition of awesome.Flying an F-15 would have to be about the most fun any man could have out of bed! Roll a few feet, pull back on the stick, light the afterburners, and go straight up to 100,000+ feet like right now!Ah, once I discussed deterministic optimal control for minimum time to climb for an F-4, and the answer was, go up, go into a steep dive, get supersonic, which actually had less drag, and then go up again, supersonic! How ’bout that!There’s a picture of an F-14 flying level and supersonic about 40 feet above the water: The down blast of air off the plane generated a huge explosion of water following close behind the plane. Amazing. Grumman built one hell of an airplane.Of course, the F-22 can go supersonic in level flight without using its afterburners — beyond belief.These goodies cost big bucks.China is trying to make fifth generation fighters, threatening anti-ship missiles, really quiet submarines, etc. We have to stay on our toes. E.g., against an anti-ship missile, maybe we want electromagnetic rail guns and various other defenses. More big bucks.

          9. JLM

            .All the weapons we have are intended to fight real wars not impress folks at air shows. I love a good air show but the hardware is for warfighting and not for show.When the Russians queued up bunches of tanks at the Ukraine border, Zoomies everywhere were drooling because they could have hung back 10 miles and hit them with missiles that would read their VINs before they struck them.Squids were drooling because their cruise missiles could have hit them from a thousand miles away.The cannon cockers could reach out and touch them from twenty five miles away.The tankers wanted to close to 2,500 meters because the Russian tanks can’t see past 2,000 meters. We have better rangefinders and sights. This is why we lost only a dozen M1A1 Abrams tanks in the first Gulf War. We lost almost as many to friendly fire, as I recall.In the Air/Sea/Land war, it is not going to be the individual weapons; it is going to be the combination of the weapon systems all working together with target acquisition tech and targeting. Working together at the same time and consuming the entire attention span of the enemy as they decide which type of attack to oppose.Once we hit the enemy’s systems or achieve air superiority, the war becomes a whole lot easier. Still have to worry about shoulder launched anti-aircraft weapons. MANPADS — man portable air defense systems.There is no army in the world which can hang with the Americans if we are just smart enough to keep it the right size, train hard, maintain stockpiles of weapons, and be vigilant.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          10. sigmaalgebra


          11. PhilipSugar

            I could not agree more with this comment. Not more. This is the best part”We have more general officers in our 450K Army today than we had in our 13MM man Army of 1945″It is true of all of government.

          12. sigmaalgebra

            > A decent accountant could balance the Federal budget in two years if we had a zero based budgeting, a hiring freeze, a decent energy policy, and some balls.Uh, let’s see: Three years just to read the present budget, ….

          13. JLM

            .Zero based budgeting starts with a blank page. You don’t have to read last year’s budget, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          14. sigmaalgebra

            Have to read the old budget just to know what the candidate items are to include on that blank page!

  11. kirklove

    Been eyeing the Kano for Bean. Not sure she’s ready just yet. Hard for me to wait cuz I want one!

  12. JimHirshfield

    So… You’re pointing out that most smart phones are WAY overpriced. Why is an iPhone $700?

    1. Matt Zagaja


  13. Guy Lepage

    Got my PiZero up and running with Blockstore on Friday.. I feel as though what people are doing with Pi’s will be the catalysts for disrupting the large hardware companies in the future. Very cool and exciting machines that allow devs to play and work quickly while not having to worry about messing things up.

  14. Kirsten Lambertsen

    For anyone who didn’t already know, there’s a version of Minecraft for RaspberryPi. It’s basically the pocket edition, but more accessible for programming, building mods.…Giving my kids (6 and 8) laptops this year so that they can upgrade to the original version of Minecraft and start creating their own mods. It’s pretty cool to see our girl and boy bond *heavily* over Minecraft (on Xbox). Can’t wait to see what they build.

  15. george

    I think it’s fabulous that groups are committed to open systems platforms with engineering cost structures at nearly zero. The value here is building greater reach and access, which allows more creative minds to explore their passions and ideas.Sometimes the iteration process in closed platforms can eventually normalize substance and creative space. It’s reassuring to think, people are still hard at work to make sure that ideas can participate from anywhere and everywhere.

  16. Donna Brewington White

    Thank you for these suggestions. Really hits home. It is amazing and wonderful how accessible it is to become a maker in technology.My 14 y.o. was showing interest in coding a few years ago. The kid who in younger years was a Lego fiend. Made the comment while playing around with coding “I am turning my computer into a pet.” Then entering a rigorous college prep school combined with (almost mandatory) sports and ADD has limited his attention for much else.So I am very excited to get the Kano Computer Kit for him hoping that the Christmas break will give him an opportunity to reignite his interest. Was reading the reviews wondering if it would be appropriate for him or was this more for younger kids and found this review from a “middle age female” and was sold. Now wondering if I should get one for me too. :)…BTW several in the AVC community were supportive when my oldest showed interest in computer science. After 1.5 years in a Comp Sci major and a f/e developer intensive course at General Assembly he is headed off to Culinary School in Napa Valley. I have some exciting ideas about where all this may lead, especially with the growing myriad of applications involving a combination of food/nutrition and technology but he has to find his own way. And the seed has been planted.

  17. scottythebody

    Such a great call. I just added both to my cart!

  18. Chimpwithcans

    Less flexible than RPi i am sure – but this was pretty cool too, i thought:

  19. Anthony van Beek

    Strangely enough I was talking to one of our founders (Gotz Thumecke) at Eventerprise about this yesterday, explaining to him how we are using the Raspberry Pi 2 that I bought while in Dublin for the WebSummit. In our home we use it as a media centre and spare gaming computer for the kids. It has even got my 3 kids into basic programming (aged 6, 8 and 12) so that one day they will be able to support our development at 🙂

    1. Götz Thümecke

      Super tool and will have impact here if they produce enough devises…

  20. Mark Essel

    I’m a big fan of a $5 general purpose computer. It’s also a great counter to the high end $4k+ laptop/desktop which I’ve been saving up for over the past year.

  21. jason wright

    “Buy your child the Kano this year and the 21 Computer next year”it may be possible to download the Kano software to the Raspberry Pi of the 21 and operate it as a standalone with may also be possible to use Piper Printer and Pi Wallet software to print bitcoin paper wallets from the 21. the 21 could be the only Raspberry hardware platform needed for many applications, but not at the same time of course (21 mining sessions).

  22. fredwilson

    they make a great prize. so smart

  23. Brian Hoffman

    It’s more about balance. I spend most of my weekend time with family and I enjoy when my colleagues do too. I believe this is more about what do you do in your personal free time. Rather than jump on Fallout 4 or watch an old movie do you try to craft something with your hands? My father when I was little used to build woodcraft projects or find interesting contraptions to build in the yard. Now I’m not that handy, but I have the same mentality and choose to build things digitally in my free time and these activities are what I look forward to when my family is tired of hearing about Bitcoin. 🙂

  24. Donna Brewington White

    What I’ve found is that people are going to find the same patterns regardless of technology. My dad spent his free time in his garden or building things (our house being one of them). My grandfather tinkered with clocks and watches. My grandmother sewed. They were introverts. But maybe the difference was that they were doing things that they could teach whichever child/grandchild was interested and we figured out what we had to do to spend time with them. I can now hammer nails and sew a straight seam with the best of them.

  25. awaldstein

    dunno anything about their business except where their positioning touches the market.and that me,from a family of scientists and programmers with kids in the extended family as their target, have never bought anything.and of course that i’m a branding geek by profession.